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Speaker issues notices to 22 rebel MLAs, seeks reply by Friday

by PTI

Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati has issued notices to 22 Congress MLAs who have resigned, asking them to appear before him by Friday and clarify whether they have quit voluntarily or under pressure, a legislature official said on Thursday.

The BJP, meanwhile, has said it will seek a floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on March 16, while the Congress said it is ready to face the test only after a decision on the resignations of the 22 MLAs.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said Speaker Prajapati has issued notices to the 22 MLAs, including six ministers, who have resigned.

Singh also sought to know why the MLAs were not meeting the Assembly speaker to submit their resignations.

The speaker has asked the 22 MLAs to appear before him by Friday to clarify whether they have resigned voluntarily or under any pressure, Vidhan Sabha principal secretary A P Singh said.

The 15-month-old Kamal Nath-led government has been facing deep crisis following the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs after former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party on Tuesday.

“Since the government is in minority, we are going to request the governor and the Assembly Speaker for a floor test on March 16 when the state budget session begins,” BJP’s chief whip in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Narottam Mishra told reporters here.

The governor and the speaker have the resignations of 22 MLAs. Now it is up to them to take a call, he said.

“This government has lost the majority,” senior BJP leader former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said here.

BJP spokesman Rajnish Agrawal also said that on the opening day of the state Assembly’s budget session on March 16, they will press the Speaker for a floor test.

When asked about the BJP’s demand, Digvijaya Singh said the chief minister is ready for a floor test.

“As Kamal Nathji has already said we are ready for the floor test. But, there should be a decision on the resignation of MLAs before the floor test,” Singh said while blaming the BJP for the constitutional crisis in the state.

“The resignations will be accepted when the MLAs meet the Speaker one-on-one and verify their signatures without any pressure. Then the resignations will be accepted and the floor test can be conducted,” he said.

He said the speaker has already issued notices to the rebel MLAs, who should now go to him and clear the air.

“Nineteen Congress MLAs are in their (BJP’s) captivity. The family members (of MLAs) are unable to talk to them. Their phones were taken away. It is also strange that the resignation of Congress MLAs was submitted to the speaker by BJP leader Bhupendra Singh,” he said.

“Now, they (BJP) are expecting that their resignations should be accepted,” the Congress leader said.

The BJP claimed this is an “internal matter” of the Congress, but at the same time leaders of the saffron party submitted the resignations of the ruling party (Congress) MLAs to the speaker, he pointed out.

The Congress veteran also said people of the country should understand what kind of “manipulation the BJP has been doing to form its government”.

Digvijaya Singh further said he never comprised with his ideology and believes in political accountability.

On Tuesday, 22 Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh resigned soon after Scindia quit the party.

Of these legislators, 19 are currently staying in a resort in Bengaluru while three are still in Madhya Pradesh, sources said.

The Congress has a wafer-thin majority in the 228- member Assembly. Before the rebellion, its tally was 114.

It also has the support of four Independents, two BSP MLAs and one from the SP, but some may now switch sides to the BJP.

If the resignations of the 22 MLAs are accepted, the strength of the Assembly will fall to 206.

The Congress, on its own, will then be left with 92 seats, while the BJP has 107 seats with the magic number for a majority being 104.

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